The Employment Appeal Tribunal ("EAT") has confirmed that the duty to make reasonable adjustments does not apply to associative disability discrimination.   

Hainsworth v Ministry of Defence

Dr. Hainsworth brought a claim for failure to make reasonable adjustments on the basis that her daughter, who suffered from Down's Syndrome, was disabled.  Dr. Hainsworth wanted her place of work to be changed to fit in with her daughter's schooling. 

Decision

The EAT held that the Equality Act 2010 is clear that the duty to make reasonable adjustments only applies where the employee or job applicant is disabled.  The duty does not apply to associative disability discrimination.  The EAT also rejected Dr. Hainsworth's argument that Article 5 of the Equal Treatment Directive should be given a broad interpretation so as to impose a duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments for individuals who are not employees or job applicants.

Comment

This decision is helpful in confirming that the duty to make reasonable adjustments does not apply to associative disability discrimination.  However, employers should remember that associative disability discrimination claims can still be brought in respect of direct discrimination and harassment claims.